In January 2000 Mr. Keenan sent along the following comment via e-mail, and he has allowed it to be included in the Victorian Web discussion about modern equivalents to the Victorian pound and shilling. [GPL]
I have been reading your postings on the Victorian Web, and one item is of particular interest to me. I have done far less work on the money of the period in comparison to modern money than you have, but I would appreciate it if you would permit me a small comment.
With understandable caveats, you say that a Pound in the late Victorian period would be about equal to $100 today. My limited research indicates a figure closer to $200, considering that one Pound was equal to $5 (or near enough) for the whole period, with a Sovereign and a $5 gold piece being very close in gold content. A moderate dinner in a restaurant at the time would cost about $.25, or a shilling, or $10 in modern terms. Not a high price dinner, but more likely than your $5.00 one.
Part of the reason for my saying $200 rather than your $100 is that at that time there was no income tax, so we must consider that much more of a person's salary was available for spending. I realize this makes a shilling worth $10 in 2000 terms, but that is not far off in many respects. It would make the famous "penny loaf" about 80 cents, not far off the cost of a loaf of bread today.
A number of other attempts at using the $200 figure show it to be reasonable.
Very truly yours,
James E. Keenan [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Last modified 2000